fine motor skill activities: pins in jar and color mixing

by Barb on November 1, 2013

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Montessori Preschool: Fine Motor Activities - Pins in Jar and Color Mixing

To me, early learning for toddlers and preschoolers should be fun with lots of flexibility for creativity. As I watch my kids play with their toys, there is no one toy they play with. They may start out with the Legos or Playmobil castle; somewhere along the line, someone needs to build a wall from wooden blocks. Someone else creates a road with masking tape. Occasionally, costume accessories are necessary for the participants in the attack on the castle.

Other times, kids need and seek out opportunities to focus on one skill until they’ve mastered it. Montessori activities give kids this opportunity to practice the one thing they want to work on without distracting rabbit trails. They master the skill and move on to the next one to work; they may circle back later to work on the mastered skill again as reinforcement.

I’m sharing 2 Montessori activities today which may have a relatively short time span for a child’s interest. My toddlers liked these activities; I’ll be sharing them with my preschooler to help strengthen his writing hand. I set these fine motor skill activities up on the periphery of our main activities for a short break.

Montessori Preschool: Fine Motor Activities - Pins in Jar

Pins in a jar is an easy activity, and simple to set up. I found the white tray at Ikea, and the small red plate is from a play set. The jar is a salt shaker from the dollar store, and the pins came from my sewing supplies. You can vary this by using containers with bigger and smaller holes as long as the first finger and thumb are used to grasp objects.

Montessori Preschool: Fine Motor Activities - Color Mixing

Many of us have the supplies for the color mixing tray around the house, especially if there’s a baby in the house. I used baby food jars; half pint canning jars are another option. Any small clear glass container allows the child to see the original colors along with the mixing of the colors. The medicine dropper is a discarded clean one from one of my kid’s OTC medicines; the food coloring is just the standard liquid version found in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

What Montessori activities do you use to help your kids develop their fine motor skills?

Because I love meeting new people and sharing, this post is linked to:

The Weekly Kid’s Coop, Family Fun Friday, Time to Create Weekly Kids’ Coop, Family Fun Friday, Kids Coop, For the Kids Friday, The Mommy Club, MMM Linky Party

Meet Barb

Barb Hoyer has written 3914 posts.

After working in the fundraising world for over ten years, Barb is an avid runner, writer, photographer, parent volunteer, and lover of dictionaries and thesauruses. Wife to an engineer and mom to 5 kids, Barb lives in the suburbs of Philly. Her idea of relaxation is an afternoon on the couch with a stack of books.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather November 1, 2013 at 8:39 am

Great ideas! At preschool open house our teachers gave us all types of supplies like these for building fine motor skills (i.e., like a clothespin and pom pom). As a teacher, I saw lots of boys, in particular, that still struggled with FM control in second grade.
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Oh, I love the clothespin idea, that’s just like Brandi’s tweezer idea.


carrie November 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

The pins in the jar is interesting! I’ve never seen anything like that! I guess I would worry about my kid playing with pins :)
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Up until my youngest son came along, I never worried about the pins. Now I’m like you. I would definitely supervise my kids when they were doing the activity.


Brandi November 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

The color mixing tray idea is super neat! When my daughter was smaller, I let her pick up dry beans with tweezers and put them in a bowl. Also, putting coins into a slot on a piggy bank!
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Those are awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing!


Gina Badalaty November 1, 2013 at 11:42 am

What a great idea! I’d have to totally police my kids with pins though :) You should see what happens with scissors… (hair cuts for everyone!)
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm

LOL – Do I know what happens with scissors!?! I have to police my youngest with pretty much everything. Even at 5, he still sticks stuff in his ears. ARGH!


Lauryn November 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I love these Barb! I need to get working on some of them with H. And honestly, C would even benefit from them with her injured hand! Thank you!
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Lauryn – This homemade baking soda clay might be good for C’s hand, too. It’s supposed to be pretty elastic to work with.



Stephanie November 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

What a great idea! I am always looking for ways to help my boys with their fine motor skills!
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Carrie November 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Fantastic ideas, and they’ll really help with handwriting and writing skills as well.
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Barb November 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Thank you!


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